Characteristics of the Weimar Government

At the end of World War One, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and fled to Holland. The new Government which replaced him initially met in Weimar as there were security risks in Berlin. So, it became known as the Weimar Republic.

Positive aspects of the Weimar Government

  • All men and women over the age of 20 were able vote.
  • German citizens were guaranteed freedom of speech and religion.
  • All German citizens were to be equal.
  • German citizens would elect the President and the Reichstag (Parliament).
  • The Reichstag made the laws and appointed the Government and Chancellor.

Negative aspects of the Weimar Government

Parliament was elected through a system of proportional representation, in which German citizens would vote for a party rather than a candidate.

This resulted in the election of many small parties. No one party could gain a majority and the country was run by coalitions (majorities brought about by different parties working together). This led to disagreements between parties and a lack of decisive action.

  • Article 48 of the Constitution stated that in an emergency, the President could take control of Germany and issue laws and decrees.
  • This would potentially allow for dictatorship to develop.

The Weimar Constitution had serious consequences for the Weimar Government. Its survival relied on small parties cooperating with each other. Moreover, dictatorship was a real possibility.